Ever since the state began there have been debates on whether it exercises too much or not enough power. There are many examples of states having too much power and abusing it to such an extent that it is of no benefit to the people of the particular country. For the majority of human history countries have been stateless, and not until the emergence of feudal society did people start to obey state rules. The state acts, as a representative of the people who live within it, when a party or person is elected there is a contract established and that elected person or party gains control.
The citizens within the state are obliged to obey the rules set as they have consented to be subject to the power of the party. In a democratic system, the chosen party will be primarily concerned with keeping power and therefore must be seen to be undertaking the wishes of the public in order to be re-elected The state is responsible for many important decisions concerning education, the health system, emergency services and generally the protection of the lives of its citizens.
The state is supposed to be the representative of the general public, which coincides with the idea of the importance of the individual as in a state only the majority's opinion counts. Different political parties have different views and opinions of what is best for the public and how the state should be run. Some believe that families and individuals should be left to make their own choices and decisions while others believe they need help from the state.
In the past the British Conservative government has generally believed in less intervention between the family and for them to become more reliant upon themselves. The Conservative party has always viewed that the only way for a stable society is for stable family structure and families should be self-reliant. "The family is the building block of society. Its a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure place, a place of refuge and a place of society" (Margaret Thatcher1998).
When Thatcher was in control she withdrew benefits from 16-18 year olds, who did not take up a place on a training scheme, in order to make families take more responsibility for maintaining unemployed teenagers. The conservatives see the family as under threat from social changes (like increase in single parent families) and government policies (welfare). The only stable structure the Conservative party believes in is what's called a nuclear family, which are your typical 2. 4 children
On the other hand the Labour government believe in helping out families more and providing more support for those in need. Labour believes the state has a duty to support families, especially single parent families that may not be able to cope. In order to do this Labour government recently set up schemes to help single parent families. In Tony Blair's conference speech when he was first elected in 1997 he said "We cannot say we want a strong society when we ignore its very foundations: Family Life".
This summed up the new Labour mentality and showed that they wanted to play a larger role in peoples lives. Support for family values had traditionally been associated with right wing thinkers but Blair changed this when he took charge in 1997. Due to the industrial revolution family structures have changed dramatically over the years. Because of this families have become more spread out over the country. This has lead to a less supportive structure of the modern family and it is believed that the state needs to help in some instances.
If the state played less of a role in deciding on what is good for society it could be said that this would be a socio-political regression. However without an enforcer, an individual's protection of his personal property and freedom of speech would be entirely dependant on his own ability. In theory it sounds as if there would be complete freedom for everybody but this freedom would mean that nobody would have to uphold any laws or fear any penalty for their actions, and it is very likely this would cause absolute chaos.
Without the state, people would need to become a lot more self-sufficient and perhaps make a move away from modern life and its subsequent benefits. Although the state playing less of a role in the functioning of society does not necessarily mean the emergence of an anarchistic state as seen in tribal societies. Tribal societies have always lived without state but instead have had laws of practice and custom. There is no definite absence of a regulating authority or mechanism but it simply works on a smaller scale perhaps more in correspondence to the wishes of its people.